Ptolemy Class Transport

Franz Joseph Designs
Star Trek Technical Manual


Stated scale:


Actual scale:


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Overall length:


styrene / resin

Number of parts:

Stand included?


Decals included?


My Source:

Cost (w/o s&h):

Working on the PNT Dreadnought conversion kit got me all bugged up to make the rest of the Franz Joseph cut'n'paste starships from the old ST Tech Manual (SFTM). The Destroyer, Scout, and Transport are simple enough to scratch'n'bash using Polar Lights TOS 1/1000 Enterprise kits. I began by parting out the pieces from three of Polar's E kits. The details for the Transport build are below but there are a number of things common to both builds, and to the Dreadnought and the four Enterprises. such as deflector dishes and deflector armatures...

No, it's not a small pizza... 9 dishes painted 1:1 Testors copper and Model Master leather enamel. 3 of the small dishes are for the destroyer, scout, and transport, 4 for the Enterprises (3 large, 1 small), two small for the Dreadnought. And one dish to rule them all, one dish to find them, one di... oops, nevermind.

The armature mount is a bit of heat-stretched styrene sprue and 0.1" lead shot. I set the shot in clay and drilled a small divot into it, then superglued the styrene to it. This will be the master for an RTV mold to make castings.

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And on the matter of names and numbers, my transport will be U.S.S. Vanguard, NCC-816, named after Ocean Vanguard, an early incarnation of the WW-II Liberty class cargo ship. The starliner module, which I think of more as a colonizer transport, will probably be named "Belt of Orion." I'll be making a general cargo module too, but that doesn't need a name.

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Parts from the Polar Lights kit are:

  • Parts for 1 production saucer
  • Dorsal neck cut away from the 2' hull
  • Small deflector dish & spike
  • Nacelle struts
  • Parts for 2 production warp nacelles.

Parts to be scratchbuilt are the deflector dish armature, connector pad, and transport containers. In this scale, containers are 4cm x 20cm - about 1 9/16" x 7 7/8".

1/25/2011 - I began by marking the location of the nacelle struts' attachment point on the bottom saucer. I used enlarged-to-scale copies of the SFTM side and fore drawings of the Transport, aligned the saucer bottom on them and drew lines for the strut attachment onto the saucer. I then cut the openings with a Dremel fitted with a cut-off wheel.

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Next I assembled the dorsal neck and trimmed it to length, then filled the existing nacelle strut attachment holes on the warp nacelles and assembled the nacelle halves. Again, I used the enlarged drawing to mark the strut attachment point on each nacelle.

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I assembled the nacelle struts, removing the center section of 2' hull top between the nacelles and cutting the assembly in two. each nacelle strut needed about 1/2" trimmed away to be the correct length. I began puttying up seams and excessively-engraved lines.

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The transport also needs its transport containers. That cardboard mailing tube next to the parts is 4cm diameter - the exact size for the 40m diameter transport containers. I'd been painting / sanding it for about a week with Minwax polyurethane to seal and smooth the surface so I can pull a mold off it. An ~18cm length of this tube and scratchbuilds for various endcaps will be the masters for the 200m long (20cm in scale) transport cylinders.

1/27/2011 - Let's see... used a front view printout mounted on balsa wood to align the nacelle struts for gluing, puttied those up, attached the dorsal, trimmed out the holes on the nacelles

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The master for the transport cylinder took on a few more coats of urethane, then a few coats of white rattlecan paint. When the finish was smooth, I cut the cardboard tube to length in a miter box w/ handsaw. I plugged the ends of the tube with 1 1/2" wooden dowel and began prepping a container for pouring RTV around the master to make a mold of it. The container is fiberboard formed and taped around a 2 1/2" PVC pipe, glued to a base so it stands upright. After the RTV pour I moved on to...

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...the tow pad. To make a pad that fits exactly to the container I laminated 5 sheets of thin styrene together with cement, taping each sheet around the cardboard tube that formed the container master. After an overnight drying I cut out a piece the correct dimensions for the tow pad and cleaned up the edges.

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2/2/2011 - This past weekend it started coming together. I used bits of clay to hold the nacelles in alignment while cementing them in place. Then I aligned the ship and tow pad against the container master. Cemented! And now for another round of putty-ups.

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2/4/2011 - On to the transport containers... after I made the RTV mold from the container cylinder master I made a plaster shell to provide additional support for it. With a 1.25" piece of vinyl pipe inside the mold I poured a 6-minute A-B polyresin in. I demolded after about an hour. For the container ends, I found the indented bottom of a pop can matched the shape well enough. I had to trim the casting to a slightly smaller diameter and rout out a lip so the cap would fit into the cylinder. After working the container gangway / coupler into the piece it will be the master for additional endcaps. The starliner container endcaps will need additional details for sensors, deflectors, and thrusters.

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2/7/2011 - With the work done that required being able to lay the saucer flat upside down, I attached the saucer top to the model and clamped clamped clamped the heck out of it to minimize seams. Still, it required a hefty putty job. 

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Back to the end caps - I drilled and trimmed out the gangway opening on the master end-cap, made an RTV mold of it and started with the castings. The two castings for the "starliner" container (a cargo of colonists?) require some drilling out for the various sensors and deflectors. The small dishes were done with a dremel ball bit. The big dish area... I used an 11/16" spade bit and variable speed drill to rout this out. Still have some clean up to do in this.

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2/8/2011 - Of masters and molds... The deflector arm I made earlier was just a bit too small so I remade a master for that, and decided to make the lower end of that a short cylinder, rather than a sphere. They both look round in side view. I attached that master (made from styrene sprue) to some other bits of sprue to make a U-shaped master. That went into a 1 ounce cup of RTV.

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On to the personnel container's aft cap impulse engines... I used a piece of ovalish tubing as the starting point, which needed to be wider and shorter. I first cut it apart along the end curves, removed about .05" of material then glued it back together (the "shorter"). I filled the piece with resin at this point. Next I cut along the center of the long edge and filled the gap with a 0.1" thick piece of styrene (the "wider"). After some putty and sanding, I placed 3 small squares of black vinyl tape on the end, where the impulse exhausts are. I puttied over the whole end, let the putty dry overnight, then sanded down to the black tape and peeled away the tape, leaving small insets. This master got an RTV dunk too, after first painting RTV over the exhaust insets to avoid trapping bubbles. I made two castings from this mold.

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2/10/2011 - Still having trouble getting good antenna armatures. But the endcaps for the passenger container are finished. I drill and filed out openings for the impulse engine on the aft end cap, cut down the engine pieces so they fit flush to the surface of the cap and superglued them in place. I pulled molds off these in case I should ever need to make more.

I superglued the endcaps to the container bodies and started with puttying up the seams.

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2/14/2011 - To make insets for hatches, the towpad, and starship impulse engines I used the same tape & putty methods as for the personnel container impulse engine master. On the towpad I used 3x thickness of blue painter tape. The gray putty used here is automotive glazing putty. Once the putty had dried I wet-sanded it level with the tape, touched up the putty... repeated until the putty was smooth and feathered out to the white resin surface.

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Finally... a coat of gray automotive primer.

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2/15/2011 - After installing the deflector armature, this went to priming. It has a coat of automotive gray on it now. The whole project is here.

3/1/2011 - Getting down to the fussy work leading up to painting. I added phaser blisters to the transport, 2 topside aft, 2 low on the front underside

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One other remaining detail was to add some turbo lift hatches to the cargo pod. I also added some umbilical connects and latch sockets.

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Finally it's on to painting, which is on the whole project page here.